Bruce Lee was the Fucking Man Part 2

To start the year off, I went back to one of my favorite books Bruce Lee: Artist of Life.  It's a compilation of Bruce Lee's personal journals, letters, and essays.  I've been a Bruce Lee fan for years and most people still don't understand why.  This is a guy who came of age after WWII and the Korean war when there was a lot of animosity towards Asians in America.  Not only did he create a persona that survives in pop culture to this day, but he basically created the martial art movie genre.  Guys like Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Steven Segal have Bruce Lee to thank for their careers.  

Not only was he an entertainer, he was also a serious martial arts teacher and practitioner. It was never just for show. He believed that what he did on screen needed to come from a real place.  He taught or trained with many serious martial artists of the time and was a student of the legendary Ip Man.

Here are my favorite excerpts from the book, in Bruce Lee's own words: 

  • "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," and any intention toward idealistic change will achieve the opposite - the New Year's resolutions, the desperation of trying to be different, the attempt to control oneself, and so forth.
  • So if you are cursed with perfectionism, then you're absolutely sunk. This ideal is a yardstick which always gives you the opportunity to browbeat yourself, to berate yourself and others. Since this ideal is an impossibility, you can never live up to it. You are merely in love with this ideal, and there is no end to the self-torture, to the self-nagging, self-castigating. It hides under the mask of "self improvement." It never works.
  • Now I see that I will never find the light unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, consuming myself.
  • A teacher, a really good teacher, functions as a pointer to truth, but not a giver of truth. He employs a minimum of form to lead his student to the formlessness. Furthermore, he points out the importance of being able to enter a mold but not being caged in it, or to follow the principles without being bound by them.
  • A good teacher cannot be fixed in a routine, and many are just that. During teaching, each moment requires a sensitive mind that is constantly changing and constantly adapting. The teacher must never impose a lifeless pattern, a preformation, on his student.
  • Many of you know that I am a martial artist by choice, an actor by profession, and, by daily actualizing my potential through soulful discoveries and daily exercising (in my case) I hope to become an artist of life.
  • Dedication, absolute dedication, is what keeps one ahead.
  • I feel best when I am showing my skill off to the audience. Why? Because, baby, I have worked my X off to be able to do just that, and that means dedication, constant hard work, constant learning and discovering, plus lots of sacrifices.
  • There are two ways of making a good living. One is the result of hard work, and the other, the result of imagination (which requires hard work too, of course). It is a fact that labor and thrift produce a competence, but fortune, in the sense of wealth, is the reward of the man who can think of something that hasn't been thought of before. In every industry, in ever profession, ideas are what America is looking for. Ideas have made America what she is, and one good idea will make a man what he wants to be.
  • When you drop a pebble into a pool of water, the pebble starts a series of ripples that expand until they encompass the whole pool. This is exactly what will happen when I give my ideas a definite plan of action.
  • Probably, people will say I'm too conscious of success. Well, I am not. You see, my will to do springs from the knowledge that I CAN DO. I'm only being natural, for there is no fear or doubt inside my mind. Success comes to those who become success-conscious. If you don't aim at an object, how the heck on earth do you think you can get it?
  • Just as the maintaining of  good health may require the taking of unpleasant medicine, so the condition of being bale to do the things we enjoy, often requires the performance of a few we don't. Remember my friend, that it is not what happens that counts; it is how you react to events.
  • You have a tendency to was a lot of energy in worry and anticipation. Remember my friend to enjoy your planning as well as your accomplishment, for life is too short for negative energy. 
  • So action! Action! Never wasting energy on worries and negative thoughts. I mean, who has the most insecure job, as I have? What do I live on? My faith in my ability that I'll make it. Sure, my back injury screwed me up good for a year, but with every adversity comes a blessing because a shock acts as a reminder to oneself that we must not get stale in routine.  Look at a rain storm; after its departure everything grows!
  • So remember,  that one who is possessed by worry not only lacks the poise to solve his own problems, but by his nervousness and irritability creates additional problems for those around him. Well, what more can I say but damn that torpedo, full speed ahead!
  • I feel I have this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, and greater than vision.  It is all these combined. My brain becomes magnetized with this dominating force which I hold in my hand. 

The Gift Giving Holiday

The fact that Christmas is still called Christmas confuses me.  I have no problem with Christians celebrating the symbolic birth of Jesus Christ, but I don't feel like buying everybody gifts because of it. 

Let's just call it what it is: A welcome day off (for most people) where people give each other gifts, hang out together, and eat too much food. It's now basically Thanksgiving with presents thrown in the mix. It's movie title might be Thanksgiving 2: This Time it's Commercial.

I enjoy the day, I love giving presents to people I care about, I just want some clarity.


Understand the Basics or Lose

Technology changes. Tools change. The social landscape changes. Human nature does not change.

- Felix Dennis

There are basic human traits that have not changed for tens of thousands of years. Our tools and methods have evolved but the roots of our actions remain the same.  Every year students are graduating from universities with all sorts of knowledge, yet many of the people I meet and interview, don't have a clue about what really matters in the world. 

What counts in the real world isn't your knowledge or a specific skill set - let's just get that out of the way. There is always someone who's as good or better than you at a given task. Yes, being good is important, but that's not enough to get you beyond mediocre. It never has been. The only way to ever make an impact in this world is to understand human nature and learn how to lead people. 

If you can't learn how to move people, even in the simplest of situations, you don't have a chance of winning, whatever that means to you.  It's that simple. Master the basics or learn to accept a life of mediocrity.